To ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ is sup-posed to be the ‘golden rule.’ But to the Hindu who believes in the oneness of creation, there is nothing extraordinary in this. ‘I love my neighbour because in the ultimate analysis, my neighbour is also myself’–that is his line of argument. In fact the sole mission of his life is to realise this ‘oneness.’ To him, spiritual life is impossible without a moral and ethical life. Therefore very great stress is laid on the latter.
The wonderful Hindu mind has condensed the whole gamut of ethical and moral principles in two simple words: Yama and Niyama. Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya and Aparigraha–these constitute Yama. Niyama consists of Shaucha, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya and Ishvaraprani-dhána.
Not to harm others whether in thought, word or deed is Ahimsa. But it is a virtue to be practised by the strong and the brave, and not by the weak and the cowardly. Consonance of thoughts, words and deeds is Satya or truth. It goes without saying that these must be right and good.
Asteya is non-stealing, non-covetousness included.
Chastity in thought, word and deed is the core of Brahmacharya.
Not to accept anything from others, more than what is absolutely necessary for sustenance is Aparigraha.
Shaucha is purity and cleanliness.
Contentment, absence of greed and cheerfulness constitute Santhosha.
Austerity in the form of service, control of speech and mind–these are designated as Tapas.
Study of sacred literature as also repetition of sacred Mantras and prayers are termed Svádhyáya.
Surrender of the fruits of one’s actions, nay, the surrender of one’s very self, is Ishvarapranîdhána.
These are the ten cardinal principles of Hinduism.